Wood Shop Basics with Susan Collard – Day 1

Susan Collard talking about woodworkingToday was day one of Wood Shop Basics for the Book Artist with Susan Collard. It involved much more physical activity than the past two days.

Sue has great energy, which seems to match my own. That is it matches my energy when I’m not jet-lagged and subjected to inferior coffee (I miss you Green Mountain Coffee Roasters).

I learned pretty quickly that one good rule to live by is to not do anything stupid. Don’t cut off your fingers. Don’t chisel towards another person. Don’t take the cool tools on the table and stick them in your pockets.

Sue started out by demonstrating how to use the tools and equipment needed to do the day’s work. In the past, I have never really been a master of the miter box. I now realize that I have to be more mindful about keeping the saw level and to make the cuts as I push the saw, not pull it.

We got to use this fabulous setup (manual miter saw) that was much easier to use than your run-of-the-mill miter box:

Compound miter saw

Want. (have no room for) Still want.

When you used it, it looked like you were shooting a bow and arrow. There was mucho cutting. By hand. People used to do that once.

First, we cut pages out of different thicknesses of wood – we used both plywood and poplar. Next, we cut up strips of oak to be used to add mitered frames to our pages.

Cutting wood with a miter box

I was having a complex about my inability to get my pages cut straight. I started with the self-flagellation – “What? You’re screwing up today too?” Ah, but then the culprit was revealed:

Damaged miter box

I was working with an injured miter box!

[self-blame ends here]

Lastly, we cut wood for the covers of our book – this was 1/2″ poplar.

Before I continue, I have to start the “I want that tool” roll call:

    1. 4 ” Mini ratcheting bar clamps: This little peanut of a clamp seems to be able to get into all kinds of tight spaces. I already have a larger set of these at home, but I could definitely use these too.

Ratcheting bar clamps

  1. 12-Inch Incra Rules Marking Rule: This thing is genius. You can mark off measurements in the integrated slots to help ensure accuracy. Measurements go down to 1/64″. And it’s flexible – you can use it to measure curved surfaces. Genius I say!

12-Inch Incra Rules Marking Rule

After our wood pieces were cut, we glued the mitered frame pieces onto one of our pages (yep, that’s a page):

Wood frame

Next we moved onto the construction of another page which used butt joints instead of mitered joints. There’s a small ledge in the middle of the page that will serve a purpose later – it involves a mirror.

Wood book page

We worked on more today than just wood – we got to play with color as we painted pieces of Tyvek and watercolor paper:

Painted Tyvek and watercolor paper

The paper and Tyvek will bring all of the wood pages together in an adhesive binding. The blue/wood block came from an old letterpress studio. I’m hoping to incorporate it in my book…I just need to figure out how.

Sue told us that we could mix together sawdust and wood glue to fill in the spaces in our joinery. I slathered it on and will sand it flush tomorrow – that’s why it looks like there’s natural peanut butter smeared on the corners of my pages.

Wood pages for handmade book

I’m feeling itchy to get back to work tomorrow. I know what decorative elements to use, but I’m not sure if they’re all going to be doable. We’ll see…

And as has been the format of my last two posts, I will leave you with some awesome quotes:

Turn that liability into an asset, something that will make someone say, “Hey, that’s cool!”

You want to be able to hold a book.

The companion to Karen Hanmer’s “We have achieved end sheetitude”:

It lost its clampitude.

And the last quote, which may have actually come out of my mouth at some point in time:

If I don’t seem absurdly human by the end of this class…

5 Responses to “Wood Shop Basics with Susan Collard – Day 1”

By Liesan - 26 June 2011 Reply

That looks like you had such a good day, and that marking rule is genius indeed!

By Elissa - 28 June 2011 Reply

Liesan –

I should add that it was Dolores Guffey (my bench mate) who showed me the ruler. She mentioned that Incra has product videos too – check out the one for the marking rule.

By Ellen - 26 June 2011 Reply

Oh dear. . . more toys–ur–tools to buy! I want to second your glowing testimonial for the Incra rule–the one thing I do have here. It’s marvelous. Great post. Really makes the excitement of the day come alive!

By Elissa - 28 June 2011 Reply

Ellen –

I just made the mistake of watching some product videos on Incra’s website. Now I want a bend rule and a t-rule too!


By Ellen - 28 June 2011 Reply

Dolores G. is a member of our local guild and is the person who turned me on to the Incra rule as well (and, yes, definitely not recommended to go to their website if you have a tool fetish!). I saw Michele Olsen last night who reported that she shared space with you in the workshop as well. You were surrounded by people I know here in Humboldt! Alas, I wish I could’ve joined them. One of these years! I’m glad you had such a good time.

So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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